As the winter begins it's slow retreat and the winds grow a little warmer, we are nonetheless anxious about what tomorrow will bring, and what those winds might carry. This is especially true given then increasing concern about the COVID-19 virus.
I have been paying close attention to recent developments in what is now being called a global pandemic. I have also been in communication with other church leaders, many of whom are making radical adjustments to their operations; and I am certain that you all have questions and concerns about what measures our Church plans to take in order to keep our community healthy and safe. If we are serious about being a church that cares about the vulnerable, and the well-being of all people, then we need to be serious about dealing with the virus that threatens the safety of some of our most vulnerable populations. Let me be clear that to my knowledge, no one in our Congregation has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus; but we want to do our best to ensure that no one is.
With the support of both staff and lay leadership, and our Emergency Preparedness Team, we are changing the format of our Sunday worship services for the time being; worship will be a strictly online experience, as we strive to practice social distancing and limit the spread of potential contagion. Our worship will continue, and we invite you to join us - just not in person. You'll each receive a link to our online service at 10:30am, and we hope to worship together in spirit, no matter where you are on life’s journey or where you are on Sunday morning! We will also make online church school resources available for use at home. This is quickly becoming standard practice around the country, and we want to adopt best practices sooner rather than later. We will be reviewing this practice weekly as more information comes to light regarding the progress of this virus; we will also be communicating with you all weekly, and perhaps more frequently.
Furthermore, we are suspending all non-essential Church programs, including youth fellowships, community groups, music rehearsals, and so on. Ministries essential to serving the vulnerable, such as PADS, will continue with revised precautions and procedures. PADS may also require additional support, so keep an eye open for opportunities to volunteer. Pastoral care will be available to anyone who needs it, and our clergy will continue to reach out to folks as we have always done.
Though we are closing the building for public gatherings, the business of our Church will continue; staff will continue to work and essential meetings, like Church Council, will be addressed on a case by case basis. You can still call the Church office with any questions or concerns you may have, and our clergy are still here for you.
These are not measures taken out of fear, but rather an abundance of caution and compassion. The church exists to serve God’s people within and beyond its walls, and we will continue to fulfill that mission to the best of our ability; to Be the Church, especially in times of uncertainty and trial. Jesus famously said that where two or three are gathered, He is there; so let us gather together in spirit, and in one body, though we may be miles apart.
Tune into worship on Sunday, hold our community and our world in prayer, wash your hands, and know that this too shall pass.
Rev. Seth Ethan Carey